January 26, Saturday

Today’s AMI Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend is provided Jasmin Izumikawa.  Jasmin, a member of the Church of Southland, is currently a high school teacher.

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Vinedresser”

John 15:1-2

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

Failures in work and conflicts in relationships have a way of humbling us and showing us our seasons of growth. When it seems as though there is nothing good left and nothing to look forward, we are reminded of our limits and weakness, which, then, helps us to grow in the right attitude.  Truth be told, even as we express our desires to make room for God to intervene in our lives, there are some things we have trouble letting go, because they exist as remnants of past successes, spiritual highs, “honeymoon” phases and easier times. But, dwelling on these transient seasons can easily stunt our spiritual growth. So, when things become difficult, as they eventually do in life, do you grumble and reminisce of better days or are you moved to pray and cry out to God? Do you pause to worship the LORD in the most inconvenient times?

Be encouraged and remember the words of our loving God: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2). When was the last time you made room for God to prune the useless branches weighing you down? Branches of unfruitful faith, shallow faith, legalistic faith. Or perhaps branches of victim mentality, jealousy, regret, unforgiveness, bitterness, insecurity, pride. These branches distract us away from the real fruit of faith and victory in our relationship with God.

When Scripture refers to the vinedresser, the writer speaks of an expert gardener. The vinedresser watches and cares for the garden year-round. This keeper of the garden makes sure that pests are removed and warded off, monitors adequate watering of the plants, hand-picks grapes at just the right times; and most importantly he prunes the plant to make room for new growth again. Without the vinedresser, the plant cannot survive for long. It’s incredible to see that from the blunt cuts on the hardened branches emerge new, tender shoots and fruit shortly thereafter.

In the same way that a gardener strengthens and prepares a plant for harvest, we find that humility and weakness, brought to the hands of our vinedresser, produces lasting fruits. Henri Nouwen writes, “Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another’s wounds.”

Just as new fruit is grown from a tender branch, we must live in humility—trusting that God is our source of joy and fruitful life. Where the LORD prunes, we can trust that it will be filled with new joy and life again.

Prayer: Father, thank You for being my vinedresser—for watching over me so carefully and lovingly. You see where I need to be strengthened and humbled. I trust You and place my life into Your hands. Prepare me for worship, prepare me to live a life of change, surround me in a community that grows in sharing our brokenness, and LORD, ready me for a harvest of joy and life in You in every season. I will abide in You, God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 29-30

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